Tag Archives: Russia

Congressional Republicans are running interference on the Russia investigation

If you spent your New Year’s weekend binge watching football games like I did, you may have missed some important reporting in the New York Times regarding the Russia investigation that blew away Dear Leader’s false narrative (fake news) and conspiracy theory that the Russia investigation is a “phony democratic excuse for losing the election” that began with the Steele dossier “funded by some combination of Russia, the Democratic Party and the FBI.”

It turns out that the Russia investigation actually began with Trump campaign foreign policy advisor George Papadopoulos — now a cooperating witness in the Special Counsel’s investigation — getting drunk one night and telling the Australian ambassador to Britain that the Russians “have dirt on Hillary Clinton” before the DNC knew that it had been hacked by the Russians. After the DNC learned of the leaks and Wikileaks began publishing the emails from the DNC, the Australians contacted the FBI about the earlier statement of George Papadopoulos, which triggered the FBI investigation.

The opposition research into Donald Trump by Fusion GPS was originally funded by the Washington Free Beacon before Christopher Steele was hired, and later was funded by the DNC and Clinton campaign after Christopher Steele was brought on. Based upon what Christopher Steele, a well-respected former British MI-6 agent specializing in Russia, was learning from his contacts it was Steele who alerted the FBI to the Russian attack on the election. The Steele “dossier” confirmed much of what the already opened FBI investigation into the Trump campaign was finding.

Fusion GPS provided all of its information to the Senate Judiciary Committee in more than 10 hours of testimony months ago, but the committee has failed to release the transcript of testimony, despite assurances from committee chairman Senator Chuck Grassley that the transcript will be released. This is where things stand today.

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Why Florida Tea-Publican congressmen are leading the charge to discredit the Special Counsel’s investigation

Putin’s troll farm and the Trump apologists who frequently troll the comments of this blog to parrot Donald Trump’s assertion that the Russia investigation is a”witch hunt” or “fake news” seem to have forgotten that a GOP campaign operative in Florida already freely admitted that he used hacked information provided by Gucifer 2.0 (Russian Intelligence) in congresssional campaigns in Florida. I posted back in May, GOP operative colluded with Guccifer 2.0 – Russian stolen info was used by the GOP:

The Wall Street Journal reported that hacked information was posted on a blog run by Aaron Nevins, the political operative, and then passed along to top Trump adviser Roger Stone during the campaign. The Republican operative in Florida received a trove of Democratic documents from the allegedly Kremlin-linked hacker, Guccifer 2.0. For months, both Congress and the FBI have been scrutinizing evidence that associates of Trump may have colluded with Russia during the campaign.

Nevins confirmed to the Journal that he told hacker Guccifer 2.0 to “feel free to send any Florida based information” after learning that the hacker had tapped into Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) computers last summer. From the DCCC, Guccifer 2.0 released internal assessments of Democratic congressional candidates, known as “self-opposition research,” to GOP operatives using social media. Nevins told the Journal that, after receiving the stolen documents from the hacker, he “realized it was a lot more than even Guccifer knew that he had.” The stolen DCCC documents also contained sensitive information on voters in key Florida districts, breaking down how many people were considered dependable Democratic voters, undecided Democrats, Republican voters and the like. Nevins made a war analogy, describing the data he received to Guccifer 2.0 as akin to a “map to where all the troops are deployed.”

After Nevins published some of the material on the blog HelloFLA.com, using his own pseudonym, Guccifer 2.0 sent a link of the information to close Trump associate Roger Stone — who is currently under federal investigation for potential collusion with Russia.

“I just threw an arrow in the dark,” Nevins, who set up a Dropbox account for Guccifer 2.0 to transfer data, told the Journal. “If your interests align,” the operative concluded, “never shut any doors in politics.”

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Special Counsel investigates Cambridge Analytica and RNC data operations for collusion with Russia in targeting social media

MercersThe Wall Street Journal (paywall) recently reported that Special Counsel Robert Mueller has requested that a data analytics company owned by far-right Robert and Rebekah Mercer called Cambridge Analytica turn over internal documents as part of its investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia during the 2016 election. Cambridge Analytica, the shady data firm that might be a key Trump-Russia link, explained:

Cambridge Analytica specializes in what’s called “psychographic” profiling, meaning they use data collected online to create personality profiles for voters. They then take that information and target individuals with specifically tailored content (more on this below).

[T]his story is specifically about how team Trump, with the help of this data company, might have facilitated Russia’s meddling in the US presidential election.

So here’s what we know about Cambridge Analytica, its connections to the Trump campaign, and what sorts of things Mueller is likely looking into.

Trump’s digital army

In June 2016, the Trump campaign hired Cambridge Analytica to take over its data operations.

We know from the reporting of Nicholas Confessore and Danny Hakim at the New York Times that Jared Kushner, who was charged with overseeing Trump’s digital operations, is the reason Cambridge Analytica joined the Trump campaign.

Kushner hired a man named Brad Parscale, a Texas-based digital expert who had worked previously for team Trump. According to Confessore and Hakim, Cambridge Analytica convinced Parscale (who has since agreed to be interviewed by the House Intelligence Committee) to “try out the firm.” The decision was reinforced by Trump’s campaign manager, Steve Bannon, who is also a former vice president of Cambridge Analytica (and whose Breitbart News site is funded by Robert and Rebekah Mercer).

It’s not clear to what extent Cambridge Analytica helped (Parscale denied that Cambridge was of any use in a recent 60 Minutes interview), but we do know that Trump’s digital operation was shockingly effective. Samuel Woolley, who heads the Computational Propaganda project at Oxford’s Internet Institute, found that a disproportionate amount of pro-Trump messaging was spread via automated bots and anti-Hillary propaganda. Trump’s bots, they reported at the time of the election, outnumbered Clinton’s five to one.

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Follow the money: the Trump connection to Deutsche Bank and Russian money

Earlier this month, the Wall Street Journal reported that Special Counsel Mueller Subpoenas Deutsche Bank Records Related to Trump:

Deutsche Bank received a subpoena earlier in the fall from U.S. special counsel Robert Mueller’s office concerning people or entities affiliated with President Donald Trump, according to a person briefed on the matter.

The subpoena requested documents and data about accounts and other dealings tied to relationships with Mr. Trump and people close to him, the person said. The bank has lent more than $300 million to entities affiliated with Mr. Trump, according to public disclosures.

Ty Cobb, the White House’s chief lawyer handling the Russia investigation, said bank records of Mr. Trump and his family weren’t subpoenaed. “Previous reports today about subpoenas for financial records relating to the president and his family are false,” Mr. Cobb said.

A Deutsche Bank spokesman said Tuesday that the bank “takes its legal obligations seriously and remains committed to cooperating with authorized investigations into this matter.” The subpoena was earlier reported by German newspaper Handelsblatt.

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Putin and his puppets are ‘sowing discord and confusion that destabilizes our system’ of democracy

While Americans were enjoying a long weekend Christmas holiday, the Washington Post did some important reporting on Russia’s ongoing cyber war against the United States that few people probably saw.

The hard reporting is a lengthy investigative report, Kremlin trolls burned across the Internet as Washington debated options. You really should read this report for background and context.

Michael Morell, former deputy director and twice acting director of the Central Intelligence Agency from 2010 to 2013, and Mike Rogers, a Republican congressman from Michigan who served in the House from 2001 to 2015 and was chairman of the Intelligence Committee from 2010 to 2015, write in an op-ed at the Post, Russia never stopped its cyberattacks on the United States:

[T]he United States has failed to establish deterrence in the aftermath of Russia’s interference in the 2016 election. We know we failed because Russia continues to aggressively employ the most significant aspect of its 2016 tool kit: the use of social media as a platform to disseminate propaganda designed to weaken our nation.

There is a perception among the media and general public that Russia ended its social-media operations following last year’s election and that we need worry only about future elections. But that perception is wrong. Russia’s information operations in the United States continued after the election and they continue to this day.

This should alarm everyone — Republicans, Democrats and independents alike. Foreign governments, overtly or covertly, should not be allowed to play with our democracy.

Russia’s information operations tactics since the election are more numerous than can be listed here. But to get a sense of the breadth of Russian activity, consider the messaging spread by Kremlin-oriented accounts on Twitter, which cybersecurity and disinformation experts have tracked as part of the German Marshall Fund’s Alliance for Securing Democracy.

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Sen. Mark Warner warns of the plot against Special Counsel Robert Mueller

This week, Senator Mark Warner (D-VA), Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, spoke on the floor of the U.S. Senate to warn of threats to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election and to highlight the constitutional crisis that would likely ensue if the President were to interfere in the Mueller probe.

In recent weeks, a growing chorus of irresponsible voices in Congress, the conservative media entertainment complex, and the White House have begun pushing a coordinated narrative designed to undermine the credibility of the Special Counsel’s investigation, the FBI, and of the Department of Justice itself. Sen. Warner responded to these “troubling” signs that the President may be considering firing Mr. Mueller or top FBI/DOJ brass, pardoning potential witnesses, or otherwise obstructing the Special Counsel’s investigation.

Watch the video.

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Transcript of prepared remarks:

Mr. President –

I rise today concerned about threats to the Special Counsel’s critical investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Over the last several weeks, a growing chorus of irresponsible and reckless voices have called for President Trump to shut down Special Counsel Mueller’s investigation. At first, these calls came from the fringes of our political discourse – those who would refuse to put our country and our security before base political instincts. Earlier this year, many of my colleagues on both sides of the aisle were right to push back on those misdirected calls and urge that the Special Counsel be allowed to do his job without interference.

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